Rutgers University Glee Club prepare to embark for European tour this summer
From England cathedrals to universities in the Netherlands, the Rutgers University Glee Club is going international for a two-week tour this summer.
Two days after they sing at the Rutgers commencement on May 17, the club will fly out to England for their "2015 Companion Tour" until June 2, said Patrick Gardner, director of the Rutgers University Glee Club.
The club will make stops across the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, stopping at the Gloucester cathedral, Old Royal Naval College, the University of Utrecht, and the towns of Nijmegan, Oxford and Bridgend Wales. Coincidentally, the Rutgers University's motto and seal is taken from the University of Utrecht.
Glee Club tours Europe every four years, Gardner said, and extensively toured Germany in past years.
"This way everyone in the Glee Club going for an undergraduate degree will get to go overseas at least once," Gardner said.
A wide range of songs will be included in the program, such as Estonian composer Veljo Tormis’s "The Last Ship" and "Pikse Litaania," Gardner said.
Gardner, who went on his first international trip with the club in 1996, said students visited a long list of countries across the globe, including Poland, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Germany, France and Italy.
Eight years ago, Gardner said the club sang to an audience of more than 1,000 people in Nijmegan in the northern Netherlands, a place where the club is well-known. The Rutgers students also notably sang at the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris to an audience of more than 3,000 people.
The Glee Club, which is a class in Mason Gross School of the Arts, practices every Wednesday for three hours and every Friday for an hour-and-a-half, in addition to extra rehearsals.
Students can benefit greatly from the international experience, Gardner said, from cultural exposure to forming a sense of camaraderie with fellow club members.
Students will be exposed to architecture and art from around the world and learn how to travel in an international context, Gardner said.
"(They will) become a citizen of the world," he said. "There is a chance to share music making with people from other cultures. Being with your fellow students for two whole weeks and traveling throughout Europe creates a comradeship that is really amazing."
The ensemble will also be able to raise the standard of their performances as a result of practicing in a wide range of venues, Gardner said.
Many students know the Rutgers University Glee Club from hearing the group sing Rutgers' alma mater at University occasions, but Gardner said the club is also a very advanced, classical music ensemble. For instance, the club sang Oedipus Rex by Igor Stravinsky with the Rutgers Orchestra last year.
"Right now, the Rutgers University Glee Club, the University of Michigan Glee Club and the Harvard Glee Club are considered to be the three finest men's glee clubs in the United States," Gardner said.
But students at Rutgers do not have to travel all the way to Europe to enjoy the classical sounds of the Rutgers University Glee Club.
The Rutgers University Glee Club is performing a diverse repertoire of songs in English, Estonian, Welsh, Russian, Latin and Hindi on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Nicholas Music Center on the Douglass campus. The concert, sung by the 80-member, all-male choral group, will feature the same repertoire that the glee club plans to sing in Europe, Gardner said.
"You don't have to go all the way to London to hear the Rutgers Glee Club," Gardner said. "Some of the finest repertoire for men's choirs will be right at Nicholas Music Center."